Rifle range to temporarily close for safety stand-down

The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday, Aug. 2, to implement a temporary ‘safety stand-down’ of the rifle range at the Lincoln County Shooting Complex. The rifle area will close Aug. 12, 2017, and reopen after the annual National Rifle Association safety inspection, scheduled for Aug. 22.

The move was precipitated by reported safety issues at the range. The issues constitute violations of the special use permit under which the range has operated since 1978.

According to a briefing paper provided by the Kootenai National Forest, the safety issues include “afterhours shooting, long range rifle shooting (not authorized), and access gate not being maintained.”

Lincoln County Commissioner Mark Peck said the decision to temporarily close the range wasn’t easy, but it was the right thing to do.

“This wasn’t a fun decision to make,” he said. “It’s been a gut-wrenching 10 days, but we’re just not going to tolerate this maverick behavior. We want people to have a good place to shoot.”

Peck said after the annual NRA inspection, the county fully intends to implement the recommendations to bring the range back into compliance with the terms of the special use permit and find ways to ensure the rogue actions of a few individuals don’t  impact the enjoyment of the range by many.

“There was a lot of time and effort put into the special use permit,” Peck said. “There were public comments, a public hearing, and things were agreed to. It was agreed to and it’s been violated. Unfortunately, it’s a few that make it hard on the rest of us.”

Peck said in order to keep the rifle side open, steps will need to be taken to ensure long-term compliance with the terms of the permit.

“I want to see the rifle side managed like the shotgun side is,” he said. “We need more people willing to step up and volunteer to help keep it open, clean, and safe. The county doesn’t have the funds or the manpower to do this. We need people to step up and become part of the solution so we can keep this thing open.”